Subscribe to Lisa’s Blog

Weekly writing & publishing news, tips, and events — straight to your inbox!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

A Turtle Day for Creativity and Writing

creativity sunflower
A burst of creativity in front of the Contemporary Theater Company, beside the Saugatucket River

How’s your creativity and writing practice?

Could you use a bit of inspiration?

I’ve been kinda quiet on my blogs, I know. I’ve been a bit more protective of my creative time while working on a personal writing project.

Gotta take my own advice! I hope this post inspires you to do the same.

Slowing Down in Nature Creates Space for Creativity Click To Tweet

Do you ever have trouble accessing your creative source—your muse, as I call it—when you’ve been running around “accomplishing” all day (or, perhaps worse, sitting at a computer all day typing)?

turtles and creativity
My blurry phone camera sometimes makes for interesting photo effects, like the pink light reflections on the river. Can you make out the turtles on their favorite branch?

A few days ago, running late for qigong class at the YMCA, I decided to take my qigong practice to the Saugatucket River in Wakefield, rather than arrive late. As I crossed the bridge to Sari’s Sanctuary, a large gazebo that overhangs the river, I kept my eye out for my turtle brethren.

It took a while but I spotted one swimming under the water among the lily pads, a bit of natural debris and a Wise potato chip bag. Two almost flourescent yellow dots mimicked eyes in the back of its head. Another turtle displayed the boxy design and yellow dots of a painted turtle, I believe.

I watched them awhile, then turned my attention to the red and yellow underbelly of the painted turtles sunning on a branch that sticks out of the water—a favorite of the turtles on the Saugatucket. One seemed different from the rest—no designs on his back and a steeper carapace. Something about him suggested a snapping turtle—perhaps, his snap!

From the gazebo, I looked for more signs of turtles swimming under the water, searching for telltale ripples.

As I watched the turtles swim, I found myself becoming less engrossed in thoughts and ideas and more just being present and watching, sensing the turtle energy. I felt watery, swimly, as if my mind submerged below the surface of my life, sunk deeper, exploring.

Water Stimulates Creativity—and Writing! Click To Tweet

water and creativity
Can you find the turtle?

In the Indian systems of yoga and Ayurveda, as well as Chinese traditional medicine, water is considered the element of creativity. I can see why, as we allow ourselves to sink into the water we connect with our creative wellspring. Do you ever experience that feeling around water?

I wrote poems—a luxury I hadn’t enjoyed in many months—and the words flowed pleasurefully. I wrote about a shifting cloud of blackbirds, some territorial dragonflies, and, of course, my turtle friends.

Slowing down, standing still, writing poetry must have cleared some internal communication hub! I found myself taking dictation as more poems and then business ideas surfaced, ideas which I dutifully recorded.

And then I practiced qigong.

The day went completely differently from my plan. I loved the spontaneity, the creativity, the feeling of flow. I felt nourished in a way that I don’t when I spend the entire day at my computer.

As I then asked questions about the book I’m co-authoring, the answers came easily. I’d already done the work by not working, just being, on the river.

At a time when I’m counting on my creativity for a writing project, this kind of slow-down-see-where-I-am-led time is so vital.

I see in my writing how much it supports the process.

Being Your Book (stimulate your creativity and writing)

A few days later, I used my signature “Meet Your Muse” guided visualization to help me conceptualize the new writing project and develop some creative and fun features for a topic that can sometimes overwhelm people.

My muse’s directive? “Be the Book.”

“I am the book. It’s fun to be the book. It’s a good book.” I enjoyed the playfulness of the idea. It made it feel easy, too.

Once I tapped into the essence of the book, it felt easy to go there any time and mine the wisdom about the book already contained within me.

I know it may sound a little “airy fairy” but this kind of thing works. I do it with my clients all the time and then we see how it shifts the work from challenging or overwhelming to more intuitive, more of a flow.

Try It! Be Your Book!

How do you tap into your creativity and a sense of flow? Please share your comments below. And speaking of sharing, social shares are appreciated as well!




Have you been giving your creativity the space it deserves? Here are a few observations of mine. Do they resonate for you?

Posted in

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Lori Erickson says

    Hi Lisa,

    I read your interview on Jane Friedman’s newsletter and liked what you said so much that I clicked on your website and found your blog. And I love this piece on creativity and writing and qigong–I couldn’t agree more with your advice.

    When you said you enjoyed travel memoirs, I wanted to reach out to you to tell you about my new book. “Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God” is a memoir structured around trips to a dozen holy sites around the world. (I’m a travel writer with a specialty in spiritual journeys.) Fortress Press published it in September and it seems to be off to a good launch, including a starred review in Publishers Weekly and a nice blurb from Thomas Moore (author of Care of the Soul).

    So this is shameless self-promotion, as well as a sincere compliment: I like your writing advice!

    Best wishes,
    Lori Erickson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Indie published Joy of Writing Journal.

Get Lisa's Award-Winning Book

The Joy of Writing Journal:

Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

Winner of the Silver Nautilus Book Award & IPPY Award

Subscribe to Lisa’s Blog

Weekly writing & publishing news, tips, and events — straight to your inbox!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 10.05.50 PM
Share This